What to do?
After a nearly a week of trying to decide which route to take around Asia I’ve realised that whichever route I choose I will meet a whole host of different people and even if I take the same route as others I’ve met, I am unlikely to have the same experience. That’s the beauty about travelling, everyone’s experience is different and it’s what you make of it, not just the places you visit that matter the most. So I decided to follow my heart not my friends and headed back down south to chase warmer climates.
I was fed up of wearing my tracksuit to bed every night and I wasn’t ready to continue north to the colder regions of Laos and Northern Vietnman where tempatures can considerably drop in the evening. I’ve been excited to visit the Ankor Wat Temples in Siem Reap for sometime so I decided to make my way back down south and over to Cambodia. This presented the perfect opportunity to catch the annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai which I dragged myself out of bed at 7am for with just a few hours sleep. I was horrified to find that the parade started at 4pm that evening and not 8am like the previous 30-odd years. The parade was impressive and showcased floats beautifully decorated with all kinds of fresh flowers, attractively dressed Thai men and women and all types of music including a strange sounding cover of Queen.
The never ending parade went through the streets for a lengthy seven hours, the poor girls in heels I thought! I had met up with Ian, Tara and Elibaba who I met in Chiang Mai the weekend before. After a few solid hours of watching the parade we soon got bored and headed to an incredible Greek restaurant where we stuffed our bellys full of traditional Greek goodness. Later we headed for a drink at the Rooftop Bar which gave us fantastic views of the late night beauty and talent shows taking place below on the festival’s main stage. The night ended with another beer at the famous Night Bazaar where we watched a young teenage Thai band play popular American/British songs. We couldn’t work out whether the singer was a girl or a boy but whichever, they were so entertaining I watched with a smile of my face the whole way through.
A sleepless night in Baankunt Hostel after walking in on two people naked having sex in my bed! I walked for over an hour and a half- with a heavily laden backpack, don’t forget – to book myself a bed on the sleeper train that evening. I figured it was time to move on due to my expiring visa and I still had some unfinished business with the East Coast of Thailand. I was so lucky to get one of the last beds on the train and rewarded myself with a delicious mixed fruit shake. I walked another 30 minutes to the local park to look at the array of flowers on display as part of the annual Flower Festival and soaked up the atmosphere with an ice cream sandwich, a popular treat in Thailand.
Another 30 minutes walk and it was time to head back to the station this time with my (now three) bags on my back. It was a painstaking hour long walk but I did it and saved £2 in the process! Jeez I’m living the dream. I picked up a Subway and a packet of Peanut Butter biscuits (don’t shoot me and my home comforts) to get me through the 12 hour train journey which like most public transport in Asia was an hour and a half late and wasn’t the most luxurious of beds.
I was welcomed by a slightly scary experience which involved being pulled into a tent by road workers to escape the demonstrators who were moving location in their pick up trucks dressed in head scarves. After a 15 minute wait I was told it was safe to go back out onto the street and continued to walk the 40 minutes to my new home Lup’D Silom which is a fantastic hostel, if a little pricey.
I enjoyed a couple of days doing nothing but hang out with people at the hostel while I waited for my replacement cash card to arrive from the UK. I met up with a Thai girl called Aree who I had met when backpacking in Europe a few years previous and joined her and her office for lunch at their favourite Thai restaurant.
Aree also brought along my cash card which she had kindly offered to have sent to her address – another example of how Thai people will go out of their way to help you. I also took this opportunity to catch the BTS, Bangkok’s sky train which was so much more efficient than the tube in London as people queued to get on and each carriage had a TV.
It was nice to stay in a different area in Bangkok and I made my way up the Main Street trying all different kinds of street food like grilled garlic bread and sweet corn and coconut pancakes. I ended up walking into the protest camp which seemed peaceful and a little like a festival with stalls and live music. I sat listening for a while and read some information displayed about the countries political state which was all very interesting.
I couldn’t leave Bangkok without one last night in Koh San Road with my friends from the hostel. Don’t ask me their names as it’s a common rule amongst backpackers that no one really knows each other’s name, just their story and where they are from. The following day I caught the local bus south to the island of Koh Chang, the second largest in Thailand where my week of partying was about to begin. Talk soon.
Living life, loving Thailand,